Quick hits (part II)

1) Really enjoyed this “The Confederacy was a con job on whites.”  Good stuff.  Also interesting/depressing to read the comments and see the latest from white supremacy apologists (the fact that slavery was legal in the whole USA until the Civil War seems to be a big thing with this crowd).

2) Many have been prosecuted for less than what Sessions has done:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a seemingly false statement under oath during his confirmation hearing. Admittedly, not every potential perjury case gets prosecuted, and Sessions may well have defenses to such a charge. But as lawyers at the Justice Department and attorneys in private practice who have represented individuals accused in such cases, we can state with assurance: Federal prosecutors have brought charges in cases involving far more trivial misstatements and situations far less consequential than whether a nominee to be the nation’s chief law enforcement officer misled fellow senators during his confirmation hearings. [emphasis mine]

3) This is the reality of so much politics.  There’s a needless cap on beer production by craft breweries in NC.  Big beer distributors benefit and want to keep it that way and spend lots of money on NC legislators.

4) Will ending net neutrality speed up the internet?  I doubt it.  But it’s the argument of Trump’s FCC head.

5) Big fan of John McWhorter.  This had to be about as odd a piece as I recall reading in the NYT:

But I recall another episode in which Mom’s comfort with the quirky took a different turn. One afternoon when I was 13, we pulled into our driveway at 12:29 p.m. I was fascinated at the time by ancient TV shows (I still am), and an “I Love Lucy” rerun was on at 12:30. This was before VCRs, so you had to catch shows when they were on or never see them.

Mom was getting through the front door slowly, so I squeezed past her to catch the opening credits, which to me had some kind of mystique for reasons I forget. I turned the TV on and was standing there watching Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz being written in the little heart when Mom blew in and — snap! — turned the set off and pointed me into a chair.

 “You know what’s going to happen to you if you don’t learn to be more patient?” she asked.

“What?” I said.

“You’re going to have premature ejaculations as a man! Do you know what that is?”


“You’ll be having sex with your wife and you’ll always finish too fast. People divorce over that, you know. Think about it!”

And she turned and left the room, only to come back a couple of beats later to say: “And you know what else? Your orgasms will be weak!”

6) I suspect I’ll be making this point a lot in coming years: Fox = Pravda.  This from a story on Pence’s emails is real:

7) Nice Vanity Fair piece on the alt-left problem.  Personally, I’m against political movement that is not so interested in reality.

8) Of course Trump’s deregulating of the FDA would not actually make us healthier.

9) “Dreamer” immigrant arrested for speaking out.

10) The case that mass surveillance is not only intrusive, it’s ineffective.

11) An NC Republican legislator comes around and admits the follow of voucher programs:

So what did this report say that the Fordham Institute undertook, ostensibly to promote the expansion of vouchers in America? It said that vouchers have failed miserably. That’s right, a pro-voucher group had to put out a report that concluded that vouchers are failing our children. And keep in mind, this isn’t an outlier of empirical studies of vouchers’ effectiveness in educating our children. Two other recent studies (one in Indiana and another in Louisiana) came to the same conclusion…

So beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, North Carolina allocated $10 million for these vouchers. That amount has increased every school year since, and for the 2017-2018 school year, North Carolina will spend some $44.84 million for vouchers. What’s more concerning is that the amount allocated to vouchers increases each year by $10 million. That means for the 2027-2028 school year, North Carolina is scheduled to spend $144.84 million on vouchers. That’s a lot of money that North Carolina will spend supporting a voucher system that every major study has shown fails at these programs’ core purpose: providing better educational outcomes for our children. All of these studies show that vouchers have, in fact, created worse educational outcomes. [emphasis mine]

12) Paul Waldman on Pence, emails, and cybersecurity.

13) Krugman Paul Ryan’s cramped view of “freedom.”

Even though Mr. Ryan says he believes that freedom is “the ability to buy what you want to fit what you need,” he doesn’t want the government to do anything to help people experience that freedom. If he got his way on spending, the programs that allow the poor and struggling to buy food, housing and the other things they need would be utterly debilitated. The rich are the only ones who could be truly free in his vision of the country.

 14) Love this from Wired on the good fortune that nuclear weapons are so expensive:

The massive expense and technological complexity associated with developing nuclear weapons is one of the great strokes of luck in human history. Imagine an alternate universe where nukes were like IEDs: cheap, simple, and constructible using widely available commercial parts and materials. Would humanity have survived the discovery of nuclear technology?

Certainly not. We barely survived as it is.

In this sense, the mass destruction cost curve is protective. The diplomats, scientists, spies, and soldiers of the global non-proliferation regime do incredible work in preventing terrorists and greater numbers of countries from acquiring nuclear weapons. However, their extremely difficult mission would be utterly impossible if uranium was just a little easier and cheaper to weaponize. Perhaps it would be better if nuclear weapons never existed, but, given that they do, we are lucky that they reside at the very top of the mass destruction cost curve.

15) Radley Balko is just not having it with the praise of Trump’s speech this week:

Trump’s speech included plenty of lies, but they were the same lies that we’re used to hearing from this president. Because there weren’t any new lies, Trump gets praised. The speech was full of fact-free fear-mongering and ethnic scapegoating. But it’s the same variety of fear-mongering and ethnic scapegoating we’ve come to expect from this president. At least he didn’t ratchet up the demagoguery. So Trump gets praised. The speech was shallow and narcissistic. But that’s just who Trump is. It wasn’t any more shallow or narcissistic than, say, his Twitter feed. So Trump gets praised. The alleged magnanimity in the speech for which Trump is winning plaudits wasn’t just transparent and contrived; it was wholly at odds with Trump’s past behavior. His very recent past behavior. As in, his behavior from just hours earlier. But the pundit class has the memory of a tsetse fly. So Trump gets praised.

16) My wife did read to the end of quick hits yesterday.  Hooray!

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